Makers Faire Soft Dovetail Box

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Project by MrWolfe posted 10-21-2020 10:03 PM 905 views 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Makers Faire Soft Dovetail Box

Box number 32 in my recent box series. This is number 14 in my Adventures into Shape.

This box started out as a video demo for an online Makers Faire in September. In the video I just cut the dovetails. It sat untouched for a month but I decided to do some shaping and finish it recently.

I used a table saw, jointer and planer to mill the wood and to cut the angles and dimensions. The dovetails were cut by hand with Japanese dovetail chisels and a dozuki saw. I also used a jeweler’s saw and a few other chisels including skew chisels.

The main body is poplar, the lid is walnut and cedar with ash splines and the pull is leopardwood. The legs are laminations of mesquite, poplar and walnut. The inset disks/medallions are laminations of all of these woods. There is also a walnut bead that runs around the top of the box.

Most of the carving involved chisels, dozuki saw, rasps and a v gouge along with turner foam back sanding disks.

Dimensions are as follows…
Outside dimensions of the “Makers Faire Soft Dovetail Box” are 6 1/2 inches wide and 8 inches long. The box is about 3 1/2 inches deep and with the lid, pull and legs it is about 6 1/2 inches tall. The interior tray is 4 1/4 inches by 6 inches and is 1 ½ inches deep and rests on 1 inch posts that create a second compartment below the tray. It is constructed from poplar wood and both the tray and the box bottom are lined with black felt.

The finish is three coats of Tung oil. Then a mixture of oil based polyurethane and mineral spirits. That was followed by buffing out the finish with crumpled brown paper. I used Trewax brand paste wax for the matte sheen.

Comments and criticisms are welcome.

About the video…
I was initially scheduled to do a live demonstration at a local Maker Faire in March of 2020. Due to Covid19 closures that event was tentatively postponed and rescheduled for September. As this crazy year progressed, Maker Faire SA and the San Antonio Public Library decided to create an online event instead. The participants were asked to make a short video demonstrating their craft.
The video was about 20 minutes long with a good step by step narration of the process. I edited it down to about half of that and then again, for time constraints, I sped up parts of the video to just create a visual demonstration and not so much a tutorial. I am fairly happy with the results. I am not a Youtube blogger or woodworking channel guy but it was fun. The event was held on Facebook September 26th with a scheduled release of Youtube links to the actual videos. I am hoping that perhaps next year the event is a live event again or that live streaming of the individual makers can be done. For a first time online collaboration between San Antonio Public Library and Maker Faire SA I feel like it was a success. All of the videos from the event have been archived on the SAPL Youtube Channel.
Thanks for viewing.

15 comments so far

View SubVette's profile


189 posts in 2457 days

#1 posted 10-21-2020 10:34 PM

Wow! Gorgeous box, and beautiful choice in woods. Love the contrast.

-- John in Florida

View leafherder's profile


1970 posts in 2863 days

#2 posted 10-21-2020 11:31 PM

Much more Oriental than any of your previous boxes – with that stylized animal feeling -it looks like it could walk away on those chubby legs searching for food with that Cyclops eye. Great job, Thanks for posting and stay healthy.

-- Leafherder

View Eric's profile


696 posts in 784 days

#3 posted 10-22-2020 12:30 AM

Very nice design, and great choices for the contrasting woods. Great job

-- Eric, building the dream

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

6160 posts in 1493 days

#4 posted 10-22-2020 02:21 AM

That’s a good looking box, Jon. I especially like the way you pillowed around the inset discs.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View swirt's profile


5645 posts in 3883 days

#5 posted 10-22-2020 03:10 AM

Another fun box design. Nice work.

-- Galootish log blog,

View therealSteveN's profile


6619 posts in 1485 days

#6 posted 10-22-2020 03:47 AM

Another killer box Jon. I would like to see the video of after the box, into the sculpting of the Uber box. Or how the curves get made.

That mysapl site is pretty neat. You have a nice resource in the SA Library system it looks like, and all this time I thought you guys just had cool concerts. :-)

-- Think safe, be safe

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2208 posts in 459 days

#7 posted 10-22-2020 12:10 PM

Super work, Jon. Lots of sweet eye-candy on this one.

-- Wildwood by Brian Johns: The Big Bang: Nothing - exploded into Everything. Thanks to Nothing.

View pottz's profile (online now)


12217 posts in 1896 days

#8 posted 10-22-2020 01:35 PM

another beauty jon,nice work.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View splintergroup's profile


4120 posts in 2134 days

#9 posted 10-22-2020 02:59 PM

Another awesomely unique unit Jon!

Looks pillowy soft, especially with that lid. I like the way you turn out these smooth creations, kind of like river rock shaping itself over the millennia.

View MrWolfe's profile


1229 posts in 1035 days

#10 posted 10-22-2020 04:22 PM

Thanks Everyone!
I was not sure which direction it would go after I made the dovetails so many of the features were designed on the fly.

It seems like an amalgamation of a few different features from some of the other boxes I’ve made recently. I like the idea of a stylized animal feeling. I might try to do that a little more consciously soon.

John and Eric,
I had a few more species of wood cutoffs from my recent pieces so I was able to incorporate more variety. One thing is the cedar panel on the top really has a depth (chatoyancy) that the photos do not capture. It is amazing to see in person. It also darkened up much more than I anticipated and it lost some of the contrast with the other pieces in the lid. However, the lid looks sharp and I am very happy with the tones of the wood.

The pillowing just developed naturally. I try to take a technique a little farther each time I use it and the pillowing and laminated disks are both examples of that idea. I’ve used both ideas before just not as developed as in this one.

This one turned out to be a lot of fun. A big surprise because I didn’t have a finished idea/design in mind.

Maybe someday I will make a video of the shaping but probably not soon. The dovetailing is a very methodical and laid out process. The shaping is very freeform and I change it up a lot as I go. Maybe someday though. I try to remove as much material with saws and chisels, gouges before I use the rasps or other tools. Yeah, the SAPL channel is fun. Its been a way for WFH library employees to reach our patrons during covid.

Thanks! The eye candy aspects really worked out well. Happy surprises and they pull it all together in my opinion.

Thanks Pottz,
This one is small but packs a wallop. A good friend called it “Sexy” and that made me smile.

Hey Bruce,
Thanks a lot, smoothing is my goal when trying to get these organic forms. I really like the description of ” river rock shaping itself over the millennia”. You’ve got a great way of phrasing things.

Thanks again Everyone.

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3578 days

#11 posted 10-23-2020 04:42 PM

Great looking box Jon
I like the design which is very original and the textured handel just tops it of like a crown .

-- Kiefer

View MrWolfe's profile


1229 posts in 1035 days

#12 posted 10-23-2020 08:32 PM

Thanks Kiefer!
That means a lot coming from you Sir!
The handle is actually very smooth, its leopardwood and the grain has those variations in it that look like spots or texture. Its a very fun wood to work with and I might use it again soon.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7683 posts in 4264 days

#13 posted 10-24-2020 08:49 PM

Your designs are a joy to see! They are out of the ordinary and so playful! Love them all! Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View grovemadman's profile


744 posts in 4683 days

#14 posted 10-25-2020 03:56 PM

I have to say your boxes are amazing Wolfe! This box is top notch work!!!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View MrWolfe's profile


1229 posts in 1035 days

#15 posted 10-25-2020 07:11 PM

Thanks Tony and Chuck!!!
Those are some great compliments!!!
I really appreciate the kind words.

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